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Improving Students’ Digital Media Literacy Skills

The Stanford History Education has embarked on new research to develop civic reasoning assessments


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The Stanford team will be studying how well students discern the credibility of information online with an eye towards improving students’ digital media literacy skills.

“I don’t think we have a solid approach for thinking about how we teach kids to evaluate evidence online and how we assess it,” said McGrew, a graduate of Stanford's teacher education program and a five-year veteran of DC public schools.

Youth, for instance, often lack the critical skills to distinguish credible sources from unreliable ones when faced with the myriad items from a search of the Web. Much of teaching is still geared to help kids to evaluate paper documents.

“Right now we can examine and assess how young people deal with a static piece of text, but how they judge the difference between the New York Times as opposed to Gawker or Buzzfeed, those kinds of assessments don’t yet exist,” said Wineburg.

According to a release from the foundation, the five research teams will be considering such questions as:


* Can today’s youth verify what is true and what isn’t on the Internet?

* How frequently do young people use divisive dialogue and abusive commentary on political issues?

* To what extent do students understand and have empathy for others who have widely different backgrounds and viewpoints than their own?

* Are young people able to construct well-supported arguments on behalf of a political position they hold?

The Spencer Foundation tapped researchers at Stanford Graduate School of Education to be part of a $2 million initiative that creates for the first time ways to measure the nature and quality of civic and political discussions among youth, whether face-to-face, in writing or online.

The project includes five research teams at four universities, with each team receiving a grant of $400,000. Sam Wineburg, Margaret Jacks Professor of Education, is principal investigator of the Stanford arm, along with Joel Breakstone, director of the Stanford History Education Group, and GSE doctoral student Sarah McGrew.

This is an awesome project made available to all educators.


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